Judy Chicago at BALTIC, Gateshead

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Judy Chicago exhibition at BALTIC, Gateshead
Judy Chicago Purple Poem for Miami, 2019 Fireworks performance © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, New York

Judy Chicago at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle 16 November 2019 — 19 April 2020 Entrance is free — Visit now

In her 80th birthday year, Judy Chicago – one of the most important feminist artists of the last half-century – is about to receive her first major survey exhibition in the UK, staged at BALTIC in Gateshead. The show features a number of her most widely celebrated works from the last 50 years, as well as more recent pieces in her ongoing career that address the current extinction emergency and questions of feminism today. A new permanent light box commission will also be installed in the art centre’s entrance.

Judy Chicago Let it All Hang Out, 1973 © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, New York
Judy Chicago Let it All Hang Out, 1973 © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS, New York

Chicago founded the first Feminist Art Program at California State University in 1970 and is known for her role as a leading pioneer of the Feminist Art Movement during that decade. BALTIC’s retrospective begins slightly earlier, however, recognising the significant contribution she made to the direction and focus of Minimalism during the late 1960s, featuring a number of her iconic optical pattern paintings that prefigured her feminist iconography. Equally, Chicago’s feminist approach to Land Art is captured through a selection of early photographs from her iconic Atmospheres series (1969–1974), which used ethereal clouds of smoke and coloured fireworks as a feminising counter to destructive ‘masculine’ treatments of the land and the wider ‘macho environment’ that surrounded her.

Judy Chicago Purple Atmosphere, 1969 Fireworks performance Performed at Santa Barbara Beach, Santa Barbara, CA © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo courtesy of Through the Flower Archives
Judy Chicago Purple Atmosphere, 1969 Fireworks performance Performed at Santa Barbara Beach, Santa Barbara, CA © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo courtesy of Through the Flower Archives

An example of one of her many vast collaborative projects working with hundreds of people, The Birth Project (1980-5) offers a series of birth and creation images in needlework that celebrate women’s life-giving capacity and creative spirit, and redress the absence of imagery surrounding the subject in Western art. At the other end of the spectrum, The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction (2013-18) tackles human mortality and the ecological crisis. The piece has not been shown outside of the United States before.

Though Chicago arguably didn’t receive the attention she deserved for many years, today she is gaining prominence once again, celebrated in 2018 as one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ and among Artsy Magazine’s ‘Most Influential Artists’. Not only an artist, but also a writer, educator and all-round humanist, her work remains hugely relevant to our time, and most likely will for many years to come.

Judy Chicago at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle 16 November 2019 — 19 April 2020 Entrance is free Visit now

Where to go near Judy Chicago at BALTIC, Gateshead

Trakol
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Trakol

On the Gateshead quayside, underneath the Tyne bridge is one of the best locations to go for a meal in Newcastle and Gateshead. In what was once derelict land on the quayside, now exists a fantastic shipping container village of purposely rusted shipping containers.

Shipley Art Gallery
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Shipley Art Gallery

The Shipley Art Gallery can be found on Prince Consort Road (named after Queen Victoria’s Husband – Prince Albert) and was created in 1917 after Joseph Shipley, a local solicitor, bestowed his collection of 504 paintings to create a gallery for local people.

CBK Adventures
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CBK Adventures

CBK Adventures deliver award-winning coastal activities including guided tours and lessons in kayaking and paddle boarding.

Quayside
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Quayside

The Quayside of Newcastle (and its sister town of Gateshead) is a hugely popular location in the city, featuring seven bridges spanning the impressive river, linking Newcastle to Gateshead and providing scope for many walks and tourist attraction.

Live Theatre
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Live Theatre

The Live Theatre has a fantastic reputation for developing, writing and producing new plays and shows every year. The Live Theatre started in 1973. It was at first a traveling theatre company, which started by telling stories that were relatable to daily life in the North East of England and presented these plays to local people – which it has continued to do to this day.

The Side Gallery
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The Side Gallery

The Side Gallery can be found on a small medieval street down by Newcastle’s Quayside. The Gallery itself is inside of an old warehouse, which by itself is a fantastic building to explore. Once you have entered the gallery, you are walking into one of the most important collections of film and photography in the British Isles.

Newcastle Castle
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Newcastle Castle

Discover the castle that gave Newcastle its name, taking in a 12th-century fortress that has been added to over the centuries.

Boiler Shop
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Boiler Shop

A Grade II* Listed former locomotive works from the 1820’s, now and events space hosting some of Newcastle’s most exciting event; from live performances, club nights and exhibitions, to food and drink festivals.

The Literary and Philosophical Society
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The Literary and Philosophical Society

A stone’s throw from Newcastle’s Central Station, and around the corner from Newcastle’s Castle, is The Lit and Phil. Only a few years younger than Manchester’s, The Lit and Phil is the second oldest literary and philosophical society in the United Kingdom.

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Saltwell Park

Nestled in the heart of Gateshead, the beautiful, historical grounds of Saltwell Park are a perfect place to spend the day.

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